This year’s festival will once again feature comedians Ed Helms, Seth Morris, Brian Huskey, Scot Armstrong and Jason Mantzoukas, along with Comedy Fest newcomers Brett Gelman, Eric Andre and Tig Notaro. And perhaps what makes the annual gathering so special is that the comedians themselves love Telluride for its beauty, ski resort and a local audience that is always up for a good time.
“This is a homegrown comedy festival where the comedians perform what they want to perform,” Berrier says. “They are not coming here to please the industry people, they are here to please the Telluride audience and it’s a chance to get together as comedians and perform together. Not all comedians get the opportunity to do improv together like they did in the old days, when they had improv classes together.”
Again this year the festival will kick off on Thursday evening with Locals Night, consisting of high-energy, original sketches, character bits and improv inspired by the people who call Telluride home. If that isn’t enough, the show will conclude with an improvised rock/comedy show titled No Posers where Huskey (Free Radio, Best Week Ever), Morris (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Mantzoukas (Baby Mama, Splinterheads) will perform music made up on the spot.
“Those guys will be playing members of an indie rock band,” says Berrier. “It will be live rock where they will actually be playing instruments and improvising music. It will be a sort of band rehearsal that isn’t going well. It’s going to be outrageous.”
Tickets for the locals’ night performance are $25.
Friday will feature an evening of the finest and funniest Sketch Comedy and Improv with shows previously performed in Los Angeles and New York City – all brought to the quaint atmosphere of the Sheridan Opera House. The evening will feature Gelman’s (Colbert Report, Conan O’Brian) one-man show.
“It looks like he is going to be doing his very short, one-man musical called 1,000 Cats, which is pretty freaking hilarious,” Berrier says. “I haven’t seen the whole thing yet but it’s basically a Broadway musical with one guy.”
The second half of Friday’s performance will feature what Berrier calls an improvised standup combo platter. “This will basically be a bunch of comedians trading off back and fourth doing a bunch of monologues,” he says. “Someone will start a monologue and then somebody will get inspired by it and then begin their own. These are all amazing people doing this and I am sure there will be some other stuff thrown in as well.”
Saturday evening will be dedicated to stand up comedy featuring Gelman, who regularly performs at festivals and colleges as a member of Horatio Sanz's Original “Kings Of Improv,” and on Comedy Central's Motherload. Notaro (Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Sarah Silverman Program) also joins the stand up lineup, along with host Morris and Andre (Live at Gotham).
“This will be jam packed night of comedy,” Berrier says, “and if there is time left, we will do another short improv set as well.”
And finally, Sunday’s Valentine’s Day performance will feature Helms (The Hangover, The Office) in a performance that is part Prairie Home Companion, part Hee Haw. Helms will host the evening’s stand up comedy, performing sketches, interviewing various characters, and playing the banjo with a professional backup band.
“Ed is going to be staging an old fashioned radio hour where he will play music, do stand up,” Berrier says. “This radio show will have some really funny bits.” Garrison Keillor, eat your heart out!
The Telluride Comedy Festival may be a place where comedians get to do what they want, but it’s the audience that makes it so special, says Berrier.
“Telluride is always ready for anything, which is awesome,” he says. “The performers have such a good time here. This festival, unlike others, has a real cohesive feel to it and a pure vibe.”
Reserved seating tickets for Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances cost $33 and $35 with discounted weekend passes available, available at the Sheridan Opera House Box Office (Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.), by phone, 728-6363, and at SheridanOperaHouse.com.
In addition to reserved theater seating, eight VIP tables will be available nightly for $500 per table, offering prime cabaret seating on the main floor for four individuals and a private meet and greet reception with the featured comedians following Sunday night’s performance. All proceeds will benefit the Sheridan Arts Foundation’s Comedy Festival.